Santa Ana winds: Felled eucalyptus traps scientist in Pasadena
Henk Postma fell asleep Wednesday certain the last person he’d be hearing from was his friend, Wes Kuykendall.
Kuykendall, an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who had just arrived from working on the Mars Rover launch in Florida, was sleeping in the Postma guest house while his own house was being sold.
But Postma, a physicist at Cal State Northridge, was awakened by a phone call from Kuykendall.
“I can’t get out,” Kuykendall said.
An enormous eucalyptus tree had toppled from a neighbor’s yard onto the 300-square-foot wood-frame guest house, buckling the walls, smashing its roof and a nearby lemon tree.
As the wind howled in the dark night, the two men continued their phone call separated from each other by a dozen feet, trying to negotiate Kuykendall’s escape. Meanwhile, Kuykendall passed Postma his laptop through a break in the wall.
All the doors and windows had collapsed. Finally, Kuykendall found an opening into a crawl space under the house and wriggled his way to safety.
“I was ready to get my sledgehammer,” Postma said.
-- Sam Quinones
Photo: Henk Postma shows a huge eucalyptus tree that fell on and destroyed a guest house in his backyard at 500 block of E. Ladera Street in Pasadena. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times